photo courtesy

Okay everyone, now let’s go outside and do this all over again!

What should be one of the easiest tournaments to cover given the 60+ years of experience that CBS has with covering the Masters proved that experience isn’t always worthwhile, as viewers were treated (or more correctly subjected to) to the worst coverage of this tournament in recent memory.  Which is puzzling, because unlike the myriad of mistakes Fox made in covering last year’s US Open, CBS can’t claim to be new at this.  The only visible change was David Feherty leaving for NBC and bringing in Dottie Pepper (and she was anything but a problem).

Nobody is expecting CBS to have hard-hitting critical feature pieces on Augusta National’s membership policies, and certainly they weren’t going to criticize the course setup (even if you could argue they should have made some modifications relative to hole locations) on Saturday given the heavy wind.  Augusta National, as is their right, keeps things on a tight rein (if they opened up the tournament to outside bids it would likely alter the sport’s television landscape), but at some point, CBS has to ask themselves how in the heck did a network that covers more weekend golf than any other network make such fundamental errors?

Did someone slip their production team narcotics or something?

Where to start…let’s start with the easiest thing.

1) TRY SHOWING LIVE GOLF, WHICH WOULD MEAN ACTUAL SHOTS…you know, live.  Sunday was “marginally” better than Saturday, but if you were in some drinking game and “this was from just a moment ago” was on your card, you’re lucky if you’re still alive.

2) Once they start the telecast, there should be a quick here’s where we are (quick should be 30-60 seconds at most), and then start showing live golf as soon as possible.

3) Join the 21st century and add a leader-board on the screen at all times (of all the mistakes Fox made last year at the US Open, they got this right).  People tune in at all times, and this is something people expect (every other sport has it).  The major team sports, NASCAR, the pro tennis tours all have this.  It’s time for golf to embrace this on a full-time basis and surely during the major championships (when viewership is at its highest).  If NBC is reading this, they need to make sure that this happens during their Olympic coverage.

4) Another thing would be to have Trackman/Pro Tracer.  It’s become a staple of golf broadcasts, and it doesn’t clutter up the screen.  If anything, it gives the viewer information (Fox used it last year at the US Open and it worked).  While they did a nice job of trying to show the elevation changes and enhanced flyovers of holes, the Trackman/Pro Tracer gives the viewer a greatly enhanced view of tee shots.  Hell, call it whatever you want to call it (call it Masters Tracer) and I can certainly understand ANGC not wanting a corporate sponsor’s name attached (much like they sell refreshments without the name brand attached), but this seems like something that can easily be worked out (and given the audience that tunes in, it’s a great way to give the bigger audience something extra).

5) At some point, that Butler Cabin ceremony has to get blown up.  This year’s was particularly bad.  Can we please lose the CBS blazers?  This isn’t the 1970’s.  I think we all get that Jim “Hello Friends” Nantz works for CBS.  I understand that CBS wants to finish on time, but this isn’t the John Deere Classic we’re talking about.  Maybe push 60 Minutes to an 8pm ET start and have a proper wrap-up.  As a viewer, I’d much rather have one ceremony on the 18th green.  An example of what I am talking about is what the Open Championship does.  See below.

Honor the low amateur (I like that ANGC does this and want it to continue) like they already do and let Billy Payne preside over this (the video above does not show the low amateur award presentation but there was one) by himself.  The ceremony is perfect and would take 10-15 minutes and would let the patrons see the Green Jacket ceremony and not having to endure a reenactment.  What’s noticeably absent is anyone trying to interview them.  If you’re going to have someone conduct an interview, let Peter Kostis handle it- he does this on a weekly basis and is frankly better at it than Nantz (the players are used to Kostis so there’s a built-in trust factor).

6) I don’t know what has to happen in order for a player to be penalized for slow play (unless John Paramour is the official), but this year was particularly terrible.  I understand that CBS is under a short leash, but at some point they need to be willing to point out that Jordan Spieth was put on the clock for slow play, to the point that I doubt they would have been able to get a playoff hole in, had Spieth been able to recover from his quadruple bogey on the 12th hole.  I know that The Masters has gotten extremely lucky with regard to playoffs and not running out of daylight, but yesterday really cut it short.   You have close to a double figure of commentators, and not one of them can point out how painfully slow the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are?

7) Viewers in Canada and the UK were able to watch the streams on TSN and Sky Sports (on lower channels, not on their main channel).  CBS couldn’t have put these on CBS Sports Network (this is the online coverage before the 3pm/2pm coverage starts) or even ESPN (who have the Thursday/Friday rights)?  Golf Channel airs early-round weekend coverage before the networks take over.  Leave the streaming on but simulcast it as well.

8) Back on the slow-play beat…I asked Alan Shipnuck of and Sports Illustrated about slow play (italics mine): Retweeted Solo Golfer in Cart

They don’t really care. Also, the club likes to be a good host to the pros. But rogue officials like Paramour lurk. added,

So there you go.  We have rules against slow play, but nobody wants to enforce them.  That, right there, might be the dumbest thing I’ve read in some time.  If Shipnuck is full of crap then every starter at a public course should be able to kick him in the nuts.  If ANGC don’t care about pace of play (and Shipnuck is right), then they’re doing a global disservice to the game of golf.  Why?  Because believe it or not, young people see Spieth and Jason Day taking 2 minutes to hit a shot and have his “routine” and they think that’s normal, which is exactly what the game does not need.  If your pre-shot routine takes more than 15 seconds, then you need to find a new one.  At one point Spieth’s group was 2 holes behind on Friday.  If you let that happen to you at a public course you fully deserve to have a Marshal intervene).
You can’t pick and choose what parts of the rules you’re going to enforce.  What’s next- deciding that on Friday you can ground your club in a hazard? Maybe on Thursdays the out-of-bounds rule changes to “drop one where you feel like” or something?
You either enforce the rules, or you don’t.
9) Instead of lengthening the course (which they’re planning on doing), would someone please listen to Jack Nicklaus on this subject?  He’s been talking about rolling the ball back for years.  If any tournament has the power to tell players “this is the tournament ball you will use” it would be the Masters.  I’m just wondering when we will see our first 8,000 yard course.
10) It may be time for CBS to shuffle things up a bit in terms of hole assignments.  If you’re reading this and you’re part of Augusta National, please use these suggestions and just say you thought of it.  It’ll be our secret (wink wink); I’m not looking for anything other than an improved telecast.
Hosts: Jim Nantz/Jack Nicklaus
On course: Jerry Foltz/Scott McCarron
18th hole: Sir Nick Faldo
17th hole: Frank Nobilo
16th hole: Ian Baker-Finch
15th hole: Verne Lundquist
14th hole: Rich Beem
13th hole: Bobby Clampett
12th hole: Dottie Pepper
11th hole: Bill McAtee
10th hole/post-round interviews: Peter Kostis
Front 9 host/backup post-round interviews: Steve Sands/Colin Montgomerie
It’s a slightly different lineup.  ANGC needs to embrace on-course reporters (they can still follow their rules), and Kostis needs to be given a tower where he has time to conduct post-round interviews after the final groups finish on 10 (Steve Sands already does a great job of this and is very knowledgeable and who won’t upset anyone’s tender mercies).  The back 9 now has a commentator on each hole.  I’d rather see Faldo have 18 to himself and let Nantz play traffic cop.    Rich Beem is surprisingly good.  Montgomerie is outstanding when given an opportunity (I really enjoyed his work at the 2014 Ryder Cup).  If you wanted to bump Beem into an on-course role I’d give Montgomerie a hole tower in a heartbeat.
It’s not about blowing it up, it’s about learning from mistakes and improving.  It’s still the highest-rated of the 4 majors and certainly CBS is no stranger to covering this tournament, but with a few tweaks that won’t upset Augusta National they can make an even better broadcast.